Today more and more people are thrilled about living an urban lifestyle, as rural living becomes less desirable. While it means our society is headed towards progress, in many ways an urban lifestyle has become a bane; resulting in an increase in chronic diseases.
And the root cause of it all is a single factor – Stress
Stress And the City
Talk to anyone who is proud of their urban lifestyle, and they will happily tell you that they welcome a certain amount of stress in their life. Stress keeps people on their toes, making them strive harder to perform better in all walks of life – be it personal or professional.
And this is true to some extent, as stress is the mechanism that prepares us for any ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction from an evolutionary point of view.
Stress could be the acceleratant that helps us to adapt better to a new environment, it also elicits some of us to perform at our peak. But prolonged exposure to stress is the root cause to many chronic diseases, including many mental illnesses.
Some shocking recent studies have reported that stress increases as our social network grows. Why? We constantly strive to fit in, and we struggle to maintain a façade and pretend to be better than we really are – financially, emotionally and even physically, and that puts us under constant pressure.Lack of control, social threat and the fear of losing your social status strongly contribute to experiencing what can be called only as ‘social stress’.
The negative mental impact of stress is more common in urban society, where social disparity and hierarchical orders are more dominant.
How Is Your Urban Lifestyle Affecting Your Mental Health?
Even though infrastructure, nutrition, socioeconomic conditions and health care services are clearly better in cities than in rural areas, it is also true that a jet setting urban lifestyle that is always geared towards ‘Action’ and the desire to be better play a crucial role.
An urban lifestyle revolves a lot around a successful career, and there has been a remarkable increase in workplace stress and related health disorders. What is worse is that such a lifestyle also constantly puts personal relationships under pressure, which adds to the level of stress.
The result – poor emotional as well as mental health.
An urban lifestyle increases risk to many psychiatric diseases, for example schizophrenia, depression and anxiety. And things get worse for kids growing up in cities, as research studies have associated extra risk of stress with growing up in an urban area.
These studies reveal that stress vulnerability of the brain alters with age; so for kids living in the city, early exposure to stressful events can have some serious repercussions on mental health even in adulthood.
Today more and more Indians choose to leave their rural environments, seeking the exposure, glamour and rich cultural life of a metropolitan city.
They want better employment opportunities, better living conditions, better infrastructure and better educational opportunities for their children. But it seems like all of these perks come at a cost; and what we may be paying with could be our mental health, even our sanity.